The Lord Haw-Haws of Hamas

Why are so many supposed leftists spreading propaganda for religious fascists?

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

Want to read spiked ad-free? Become a spiked supporter.

Imagine going back in time, a decade or so, and telling anti-fascists that one day they’ll be doing the bidding of fascists. Imagine telling anti-racists that they would soon become propagandists for racists. Imagine telling those woke campus feminists, the sort who thought that being propositioned at the student bar was ‘rape culture’, that in the not-too-distant future they’d be making excuses for literal rape. They’d have thought you mad. And yet it’s happened. Many of yesteryear’s self-righteous haters of bigotry have morphed into the Lord Haw-Haws of Hamas – one of the most bigoted movements on Earth.

This week, we got a grim insight into this unholiest of hook-ups between our own bourgeois anti-fascists and Gaza’s religious fascists. A story emerged about members of the Israel Defence Forces raping women in al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. It sounded hellish. Women were brutalised in front of male family members. Some women were summarily executed. One of the rape victims was five months pregnant. Al Jazeera splashed with the horror story and it spread with staggering speed through activist circles online. It was signal-boosted by some in the mainstream media too, including the Guardian’s Owen Jones.

There was only one problem: there wasn’t so much as a sliver of proof these atrocities took place. The terrible tale came from an interview with one woman. She said she witnessed IDF troops ‘raping women [and] then killing them and burning entire families alive’. It now seems she made the whole thing up, in the hope that her ‘incorrect talk’ might ‘arouse the nation’s fervour’ – that is, drum up yet more hate for Israel. Al Jazeera has taken down its report about the hell in the hospital and a former director of the channel, Yasser Abuhilalah, has flat-out said it was fake. It was ‘fabricated’, he says.

There are so many lingering questions about this atrocity story, this war myth. Chief among them: why did so many on social media fall for it? Even the most rudimentary interrogation of the lady’s claims should have set alarm bells ringing. For example, why was there only one witness to this supposedly hospital-wide ravaging by the wicked IDF? Why would troops burn alive families in a building they want to secure and occupy? Where would they do that? None of it made sense. But many seemed content to park their critical faculties and let the fabrication wash over them.

It is a testament to the intensity of activists’ Israelophobia, their increasingly unhinged loathing for the Jewish State, that many were quick to believe the IDF had behaved in the most monstrous fashion imaginable. The problem here wasn’t just naivety – it was bigotry. It wasn’t just a dearth of critical thinking that enticed some to gulp down with glee what was clearly a tall tale – it was an overabundance of prejudicial thinking, specifically Israelophobic thinking. Drunk on the anti-Israel ideology, ensnared by the warped belief that Israel is a uniquely barbarous nation, woke activists have made themselves into wide-open receptacles for Hamas bullshit.

In fact, in this case it seems even Hamas felt compelled to rein in the untruths. Yasser Abuhilalah says it was ‘Hamas investigations’ that determined the woman’s story ‘was fabricated’. Jihad Khelles, a pro-Hamas preacher in Gaza, also damned the story as irresponsible. Tales like this create ‘panic and fear’, he said. It seems some in Hamas circles were concerned – not unreasonably – that Gazans who hear horrific tales about rape in hospitals might decide to avoid hospitals. Which would obviously make their lot even worse. Clearly, Hamas knows the truth about al-Shifa – namely, that those crazy Jews haven’t really turned it into a fascistic abyss where Arabs are burnt alive.

This appears to be a rare case of Hamas recognising that its demented propaganda might do more harm than good. And so, no doubt reluctantly, it let out the truth. The hospital is okay. You can go there. It really says something when Hamas has to temper a story that woke Westerners keenly believed. Listen, when a neo-fascist movement, a movement founded to slaughter Jews, has to tell you to calm down, you know you’ve crossed to the dark side. We now have a situation where Millennials and Gen Zers who for so long posed as anti-fascist are having their knuckles rapped by fascists for going too far.

Lord Haw-Haw was the nickname given to William Joyce and others who broadcast Nazi propaganda in the UK during the Second World War. The Lord Haw-Haws of Hamas haven’t reached quite that level. They haven’t set up underground radio stations devoted to reading out loud every Hamas press release. But, consciously or otherwise, they do Hamas’s bidding. Spread its propaganda, hawk its lies. The activist class and much of the supposedly liberal media treat Hamas claims as good coin while being showily sceptical of everything Israel says. To such an extent that even the obvious fiction of organised rape on hospital wards was swiftly believed.

It happens over and over again. When al-Ahli Hospital was bombed last year, much of the media parroted the Hamas line that Israel did it. It later transpired that it might have been a misfired rocket from Islamic Jihad. When Hamas says more than ‘30,000 Palestinians’ have been killed, the media repeats it like a mantra. It doesn’t stop to ask not only whether the numbers are reliable, but also how many of the dead are Hamas terrorists. The idea that Israel has ‘murdered 30,000 Palestinians’ is a fiction, another war lie, essentially. The truth is that Israel is at war with Hamas, and thus it has slain many Hamas members, and in the process, as in every war in history, civilians have sadly died, too. It is rare indeed to hear such truths from the West’s Smart Set whose flapping hate for Israel has driven them into the arms of Hamas.

Some on the woke left have gone further than spewing the Hamas line – they’ve openly celebrated Hamas’s crimes. A ‘day of celebration’ is how one British left-winger described Hamas’s racist butchery of 7 October. A Cornell professor said he found Hamas’s pogrom ‘exhilarating’. A lecturer at the University of California, Irvine said Hamas’s attack had exposed ‘the Zionists’ for the ‘bloodthirsty animals that they are’. At George Washington University, ‘Glory to our martyrs’ was projected on to a wall. And there you had it: right-on campuses that spent the past two decades fearmongering about ‘rape culture’ were now cheering on mass rape.

This week’s fabricated story about rape at al-Shifa Hospital raises a chilling question: why are some quick to believe accusations of rape made by Palestinians and equally quick to discount and deny accusations of rape made by Israelis? Some of the same people who ate up the fake story about IDF rapists were dismissive of the far more substantiated reports about Hamas using rape as a weapon of war on 7 October. ‘If there was rape and sexual violence committed, we don’t see this on the footage’, they said in the aftermath of that racist pogrom. No one wants to hear this question, I know, but we have to ask it: why do they have to see a Jewish woman being raped before they’ll believe it happened?

‘Believe women’, many on the left said for years. They’ve changed their tune. Now it’s ‘Believe Palestinian women but not Israeli women’. Now it’s ‘Believe some women’. Now it’s ‘Believe it when Israelis are accused of rape but not when Israelis say they’ve suffered rape’. Actually, it’s worse. In lapping up Hamas’s claims, in embracing every horror story Hamas hawks about the Jewish State, the woke left has adopted a whole new rallying cry: ‘Believe fascists.’

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics World


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today